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Nearly two dozen confirmed monkeypox cases in South Carolina (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Twenty three confirmed monkeypox cases have been confirmed in the Midlands, Lowcountry and Upstate areas in South Carolina, according to information released today by the state health department.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Bell says the primary way of contracting monkeypox is through prolonged skin-to-skin or face-to-face contact with someone who has the virus.  It’s even more contagious if the person has open sores or lesions.  Bell says the people most at risk right now are those who have been near someone with the virus and members of the gay, trans and gender-nonconforming communities.   The virus can also spread through the air, but only after a long exposure over several hours.

So far, South Carolina has received at least 1,500 doses of the monkeypox vaccine and the federal government has already allocated another 5,200 doses to the state.

Those who are eligible to receive it so far include those who have contact with a person who has a confirmed case of  monkeypox, and adult gay, trans, queer and gender-nonconforming people who have sex with other men and have had multiple sexual partners in the last 14 days.

The vaccine requires two-doses.  The second dose is to be given 28 days after the first dose, but due to limited availability, that might not be possible within that time frame.